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Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Euro "green" company gets a PDC handout

This time it's a Swiss outfit, ReVolt, which is trying to make zinc-air batteries big enough for cars. They're going to be ensconced out by the airport -- just up the street from the Home Depot near I-205. In addition to a $5 million federal grant, they say they've lined up $6.8 million of "incentives" from the Oregon Department of Energy (criminal investigation pending) and the Portland Development Commission. The PDC, of course, just handed over something like $2 million to the Danish windmill manufacturer Vestas to keep its American headquarters in Portland.

Jobs are better than no jobs, and anything's better than the PDC handing out more money for condos and streetcars. But one wonders whether these "green" firms are going to make it in the long term. Take ReVolt, for example. Various big-time players (including General Motors) have been trying to get a vehicle to run on a viable zinc cell for decades, but without commercial success.

Eventually, ReVolt says, it will be manufacturing batteries on the airport site. Given its proximity to the City of Portland drinking water wells and the Columbia River, one suspects that some interesting environmental regulatory issues could crop up.

Comments (10)

This is that big boondoggle that Merkley, Wyden, Wu were touting as having given them this much money. ReVolt apparently established residency by renting a house with a phone and then started applying for grants (probably in every state they could.)

Zinc-air has no chance for cars. To give you an idea, their biggest app is for hearing aid batteries.

The environmental risk is in the potassium hydroxide (burns you skin, similar to lye). The real problem is going to be out easy with the cadmium telluride solar factory. Cadmium is a known carcinogen. Tellurium is not terribly friendly either.

ReVolt will be manufacturing the air portion of the batteries in Portland, then ship it overseas to be united with the zinc portion.
The air will be recycled from the used air from Vestas windmills. No use throwing away perfectly good air.

China, which has a huge incentive to develop green energy technology for both economic and public health reasons (its cities are choked with smog), is going to eat every Western green-power firm for lunch, and all this money will have been wasted. It would have been better spent on new community college programs to train technicians and engineers to assemble and maintain Chinese-made wind turbines and electric cars.

Isn't it enough we have to drink radioactive water from the well field? More risk?

Steve is right. This scam was already pulled on our elected idiots. We must be an easy mark for all the corrupt corporations looking for politicos that are desperate.

If they are going to invent a car battery should they not qualify for an ODOT grant as they have tons of money to spare?

Goodness knows the PDC would not want to help any local businesses that are not already part of the PDC's corporate welfare cabal.

Revolting example of our tax dollars being dumped down a DC sized rat hole!

Eric's on the right track... the money could've been better spent setting up schools to teach us to communicate in Standard Mandarin. Think of the advantage you'd have over your neighbor when the Chinese peacekeeping forces inevitably arive.

Speaking of handouts, I was surprised to read this in an article about electric vehicles in the Portland Mercury:

"One issue that has yet to be resolved is who can sell the electricity from the stations. In Oregon and numerous other states, only utility companies can sell electricity. Consequently, many of the stations are free to the public, with the cost of the electricity being paid by the participating state or city governments."

The rest is here.

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